About Clean Up the World Day
How did it all begin?
Surprise at Sea
Like most of the good ideas in the world, the idea behind the international Clean Up the World Day also began almost by accident. An Australian named Ian Kiernan, whose business is building yachts, thought of a wonderful idea, which initially focused on the city of Sydney. He was familiar with the pollution all around after having taken part in a yacht race two years earlier, during which he was shocked to discover that there was tons of trash in the sea—plastic and glass bottles, used diapers, cigarette butts and all sorts of horrible things.
After returning to Sydney, Ian and his friends initiated a local cleanup day with 40,000 volunteer participants. This was the precursor for the first Australian Clean Up Day one year later, and in 1993, the Clean Up the World organization was founded.
What are the world figures?
Let’s Talk Numbers
According to estimates, Clean Up the World events have included 16 million participants in 113 countries all over the world. This great success was also recognized in 1998, when Ian Kiernan won the prestigious United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Sasakawa Environment Prize for his small idea that had turned into a major accomplishment.
When did the idea make aliya to Israel?
From Schoolchildren to Grandparents
JNF Australia had made the first connection between the Australian-born initiative, and KKL-JNF, the largest Green Organization in Israel, brought the Clean Up the World project to Israel in 2001. The KKL-JNF-supported international clean up day puts a special emphasis on forests and open spaces.
Clean Up participants meet in various public spaces, including schoolchildren, soldiers, students, youth movements, green activists, pensioners and, of course, regular citizens personally interested in the project, and they are from all sectors of Israeli society - Jewish, Muslim, Druze, Christian and so on. The President of Israel and foreign diplomats posted in Israel also take part in the cleaning efforts.
In 2006, the Regional Council Center and the Local Authorities Center got involved in the project, and 70% of the country's regional authorities are now involved in the Clean Up the World in Israel project. The number of clean up participants and volunteers increases every year.
Israel cleanup day vs. international Clean Up Day
Let’s Get This Straight
In the past, KKL-JNF initiated two legislations together with MK Ghaleb Majadla defining two cleanup days, an international one in September and a national one in March. The proposed legislation went through many transformations, and the national cleanup day is now the responsibility of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Education. The national cleanup day is held every year on the last Tuesday of Adar (Adar II in leap years). The proximity to Passover is intentional, since the holiday is characterized by cleanliness and order, and the spring weather is conducive for this type of activity.
In addition, KKL-JNF leads the international Clean Up the World Day. It is not part of the legislation, but because of the day's importance, KKL-JNF consistently keeps it on its calendar and allocates extensive resources towards its implementation.
What are the focuses of Clean Up the World Day?
The Importance of Waste Separation
The event, which is led by KKL-JNF, focuses on many different topics, among them recycling, tree planting, environmental education, desalinization and water resource preservation, ongoing environmental projects - really anything that helps the environment not just for one day but for long afterwards.
Special emphasis is made, as noted, on waste separation, and this is a good time to clarify its importance. Every day we dispose of huge amounts of trash. (Israeli homes generate 5 million tons of solid waste per year, and this quantity increases by 5% a year.) Waste that is not separated is dumped, which increases environmental pollution, since these dumps cover vast areas. When waste is separated into wet and dry, the wet waste (called organic waste), which constitutes about a third of the waste, gets sent to facilities that turn it into fuel or agricultural fertilizer. This is not only practical but also significantly reduces the quantity of dumped waste.
On this day, KKL-JNF distributes information materials, bio-degradable bags, gloves and special Cleanup Day shirts and hats to those taking part. Diverse groups of youngsters and adults in communities around Israel are encouraged to take part in hands-on activities to clean KKL-JNF sites, while the educational and informational aspects of the project highlight the importance of cleanliness and respect for the environment as expressed in both Jewish and universal sources.
So, what’s happening this year?
Go Get Your Calendar
Clean Up the World Day will be celebrated this year in Israel on October 24, 2017. In other countries it took place on September 15. Partners in the project, besides KKL-JNF, include the Regional Councils Center, the Local Authorities Center, the IDF, the Jewish Agency, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Cleanup Scouts, Lions Israel, the Dudaim waste facility, Amnir, and others.
400,000 people are expected to take part this year, from every sector of Israel's diverse populations: Jews, Druze, Muslims and Christians; Negev and Galilee Bedouin communities; schoolchildren, who will also be engaged in recycling activities and high school students; veteran Israelis and new olim at absorption centers; local and regional government authorities; the Ministry of Environmental Protection; the Israel Police Force; the Israel Fire and Rescue Services; Israel's women's organizations and the Council of Youth Movements, among other associations and organizations; youngsters and adults with special needs; IDF units, also involved in informative activities and preparatory lectures.
A huge, festive event and regional ceremonies will be held at the conclusion of the day.
By Dudu Cohen and KKL-JNF staff